... in a manner of speaking, since this photo was obviously not taken in my bedroom.
Since I haven't been sewing or cardboarding much recently, my nights have been spent reading. And this is the collection of books that I'm simultaneously halfway through. All light reading, and four out of six are extremely funny. Three are by English authors, two are psychological nonfiction, four are about family, two are about cultural angst and one is about food. Very telling. Notice that none of them are sewing, drafting or craft books? And none of them would look good posing with something from Starbucks (or Caribou Coffee, if you're from these parts, not that I drink coffee from either, or at all). Hah. I almost wish one of them were a modern novel, so that I might appear current, hip and edgy. Alas.
Just to have something to write about, let me tell you about these books. Let's begin at the top of the stack.
I'm reading through my collection of old Enid Blytons with Emily. Sometimes Jenna and Kate listen in. We're now on book #11 of the 15-book Mystery series about five intrepid detective children and their runs-in with the local, somewhat insipid police force. Lots of disguises, great twists and hilarious conversation.
A Tiger in the Kitchen is one of those few books that has been written about Singaporean culture (i.e. food) that has no glossy color photographs of actual food. It's a fun read, given that the author sounds like she's from the same generation as I, and as disintegrated with the Chinese parts of her identity as I, and, living in the US, as desperate to capture the essence of Singaporean cooking as I. I wish she had small children, so I could read about how exhausted she is at the end of each day, and resorting to making pancakes from a Bisquick box for dinner in spite of her best intentions to make a Singaporean meal from scratch.
I love Gerald Durrell!!!!!!!!!!
I am re-reading, for the umpteenth time, his brilliant Corfu trilogy. Oh, how he makes me laugh. And how I wish I were his mother because, unlike me, she never turns a hair at the ridiculous pranks her children get up to. What sort of strong alcoholic drink does she daily imbibe?
I love Adrian Plass!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am not allowing myself to re-read his Sacred Diary trilogy. Instead, I am savoring his hilarious satire of the modern church. It's written as an instruction manual to the layperson wishing to learn the ins and outs of modern churchmanship - reverse psychology at its best, with a bit of red tape thrown in.
Skipping down to the bottom-most book - as my kids get older and more aware of cultural issues and roots and all those other murky aspects of Who I Am, I know the day will come when we will begin some interesting and maybe difficult conversations about identity. As if adolescence weren't thorny enough, our girls will have the additional bits and bobs of belonging to two countries, two cultures, two languages, two lifestyles, two families. They see this delightful marriage of cultures literally in Dave and me, but they are becoming more American each year of their lives and less Singaporean. I feel a little sad that their only experience of Singapore is through the somewhat-skewed eyes and wholly-monolingual tongue of their mother. They aren't truly third culture kids in the original sense of the phrase, but they will relate to many similar issues in later years, especially if they continue to keep strong ties with their maternal grandparents and their little island in the sun. I hope they do - it will make them amazing, strong, adaptable, confident, interesting young women one day. But it might also make them slightly nuts and that's why I'm reading this book.
Back to the Five Love Languages of Children. I've never read the original version (which was about adults) and the more I meander into parenthood, the more I marvel at the vast amount of frameworks on rearing children. I do believe that, in any major bookstore, just the section on Child Discipline is bigger than the section on sewing stuffed animals. And that's saying something. All this says to me is that children are hard to figure out, but you love them anyway, because you made them. Sort of like a particularly challenging sewing project. Years before I became a mother, I had a mental list of things I would never do. It went like this:
- No watching Barney
- No Disney princesses
- No pink
- Death to Hello Kitty
- No candy
- No fast food
- No TV that wasn't National Geographic
- No obsessing about swimming lessons or gymnastics or ballet class or art camp or playdates or other such superficial silliness
- No meeting up with other narrow-minded mothers who only want to talk about their children's grades, or what sort of friends they want their kids to have, or which teacher was the best in the school. Trivial! Trivial! Trivial!
and on and on it went.
Funny how actual motherhood changes a person.
So does that Five Love Languages book make sense or not? You'll have to read it yourself to decide. It isn't the sort of book I'd buy myself - it was given to me, and I have enjoyed reading it. It did make me think of sewing, though, and what the Love Languages of Sewists might be. Here are my Five:
Do you get your main kick from coveting and buying delicious fabric and ideas you know not what to do with? Do you love the actual making and learning to make? Do your thrills come from creating new patterns and interpreting old classics? Do you love the sharing, the camaraderie, the mail swaps, the blogging? Or do you just crave nutella (oh, all right, chocolate)? As with all theoretical frameworks, you can swing in more than one direction, but there is usually one (or two) that define(s) you. You all know mine. What's yours?